The Homestead Act
The Homestead Act
To my understanding, and from what I have read in the book and throughout the course links, I believe that the intent of the Homestead Act was to defeat land monopoly. Many farmers, however, lacked the economic means to move west and manage a farm. . By this, fewer still understood the new type of agriculture, in which technology was used to farm the land that the Great Plains required. Instead, speculators and corporate interests were able to reap in profits, and fraud and corruption, and often marked the process farmland for transportation (the railroads). The Homestead Act’s biggest weakness however, was not taking into account conditions on the frontier. I also think that the eastern framers did not consider that some of their land was too large for irrigated farming and too small for dry farming. The role of the private capital in the American West was towards the rich. The poor individuals did not have any control of most of the land even if they were the first occupants. The rich people were also in control of the railroad system, in which the well to do folks had the only say so.
Farmers finally received a break, with the railroads. Under the Pacific Railroad Act, land grants made possible the speedy construction of the Union Pacific, Central Pacific, Northern Pacific, Santa Fe, and Southern Pacific railroads. They were Lead by railroad promoters to believe in a bountiful West harvest, in which mass amounts of European immigrants were caught up in the movement West. I think that the railroads provided exactly what the Homestead Acts did not: credit terms, good quality advertisement, larger land tracts, special passenger rates, and farming support for future Western settlers.
There were a lot of motivated businessmen of the Great Northern Railway, who planned and directed the settlement of thousands of settlers along different lines. One thing that I believed that helped the settlers was the fact that lands sold by the railroads also hastened settlement because they provided the cheapest and most convenient way of getting farmer’s produce to the markets. By this, I believe that the United States government played a major role in developing the railroad system and then came in to assist the public when the private companies were mistreating the general public for a profit.
According to the Links in unit 10, and according to what I have read in the book, it seems as if the railroad system was a project that was difficult to accomplish. From the beginning, and as seen within the union pacific site, the workers that worked on the railroads were not well treated at all. Many of them were treated like animals with no self-worthiness. These workers were hardly paid money and the small amount of money they received was not enough for them to take care of their families.
From time to time, some workers organized rallies and strikes to make sure that their voices were heard. The transformative power of the railroads in the American West, in my view, can relate to the tern “talismanic wands”. At that time, the settlers did not have any mode of transportation other than their animals, and the railroad system seemed to be the magical instrument. I think the railroad did work miracles for the people at that time because it gave them a chance to travel and market their goods elsewhere.